Incumbent Wendell Marlowe will face challenger John Jankowich in the Aug. 7 race for District 22 Wilson County commissioner.
Marlowe has worked for Wilson County Schools since 1978. He’s spent eight years as a teacher at Mt. Juliet Junior High School, 20 years as principal at Lakeview Elementary School and seven years as principal at West Wilson Middle School.
He graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University in 1978 with a degree in elementary and physical education. He’s also a 1980 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in school administration and supervision.
He’s married to Sheila Marlowe, and the couple has two sons, Patrick and Joshua, and one grandson, Jordan.
Jankowich is a retail buyer in the merchandising department at Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores Inc.
He graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1988 with a degree in telecommunications.
Both he and his wife of 25 years, Audrey Jankowich, are Easton, Penn. natives, and they have two daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth. They have lived in Wilson County since 2004 and are members of Providence United Methodist Church, where he serves on the church’s finance committee.
What prompted you to seek office? Was it a personal initiative or did others encourage you?
Marlowe: I was encouraged by individuals in my district to be a part of Wilson County government about 20 years ago, and it’s been very rewarding and enjoyable, most of the time.
Jankowich: Running for Wilson County Commission District 22 is certainly personal initiative. I’ve long had an interest in government and local politics, and I’ve come to the conclusion that now would be the perfect time in my life to get involved and offer myself for public service.
What are the most important issues in your race, and how do you plan to address them?
Marlowe: For District 22, one the most important issues is adequate fire protection. Most of this district is in the city of Mt. Juliet. A new fire station was constructed for south Mt. Juliet, and there are plans for one to be constructed for north Mt. Juliet. I will continue to encourage and work with Mt. Juliet to get improved fire protection for the residents for the north side of the city. Public safety and our school system will continue to be priority of mine, but an area that needs to move up on the priority list deals with the quality of life in our county as it relates to parks and recreation, as well as venues to accommodate interest groups in our county and bringing in tourists to our county.
Jankowich: The most important issue facing Wilson County in the coming years, simply put, is growth. The population of our county has grown exponentially in the last 20 years, and all reasonable Census estimates predict it could likely double in the next 20-plus years. Thus the pressing issue before us is whether we planning for and making the very best decisions possible to prepare for this type of growth.
What would you say to voters opposed to your running for office to convince them you are the most qualified?
Marlowe: My record speaks for itself and would more than likely not spend a lot of time with those who oppose me running for public office. I do not run against a person or in opposition of an idea that I do not agree with; I’m a candidate for a position to support my community and local government in the most positive way possible.
Jankowich: Why am I the most/best qualified as compared to the current incumbent that holds the office, life and professional experience. I have been a resident of Wilson County for 10 years. Professionally, I work for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc., as a retail buyer in the merchandising division. I have been married to the love of my life, Audrey, for 25 years, and I have two wonderful daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth, currently pursuing their college degrees in our state. Business experience, life lessons, I’m ready for the responsibilities that come with elected office.
What do you bring to the table that your opponents do not?
Marlowe: History. I’ve lived and worked in Wilson County for 35 years. I’ve served the public as an educator for 35 years and as a commissioner for 18. The public has elected me in two different districts, 1 and 22. And, I have a good working relationship with public officials and the community.
Jankowich: I bring professional business and long-term financial and development planning experience to the office that my opponent simply cannot and has not offered.
How is your experience – or lack of experience – a plus or minus for the position you are seeking?
Marlowe: My experience serving my community and the county is definitely a plus. It provides opportunities and advantages to address situations in a knowledgeable manner.
Jankowich: It has become apparent that the fact I have not previously served on the county commission, and would be bringing a fresh voice and new perspective on local governance, is nothing but a total positive. The voters and residents of District 22 and all of Wilson County deserve nothing less.